02 March 2015

Think Tank: Sea State (2-Mar-2015)

By Amelia Long

Submarines continue to make headlines across Australia, with the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey encouraging Australia to make a quick decision about a replacement for the Collins-class submarines. In a press briefing in Sydney on Tuesday, General Dempsey stated that:
‘Whatever choice Australia makes we would strongly encourage that the systems be compatible and interoperable with the US forces. So that we can continue to operate like we do today.’
The Australian has also released a piece outlining that the submarine choice reached the point last year where media releases stating that Australia would buy a fleet of Japanese Soryu-class derived subs were prepared, but never sent out. Moreover, while it appears that the suggestion to partner with Japan ‘came first from senior American officials’, the Australian Financial Review has reported that despite many politicians believing otherwise, the US is perfectly capable of operating closely with militaries which have differing combat systems.

News Story: US naval official overstated strength of PLA sub fleet

Type 093 Shang class nuclear submarine (SSN)

Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of US naval operations, has been criticized in China's Global Times for comments which exaggerate the strength of the People's Liberation Army Navy, in the view of a Chinese expert interviewed by the paper.

"China is building some fairly amazing submarines and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States," Mulloy told the US House Armed Services Committee's seapower subcommittee on Feb. 25, according to Reuters. Mulloy said China is expanding the geographic areas of operation of its submarines and the length of their deployment. The PLA Navy deployed its submarines to the Indian Ocean about three times last year and also kept vessels out at sea for 95 days, Mulloy said.

Even though China's submarines cannot match those of the United States, the size of the PLA Navy's sub fleet is catching up. The United States Navy has 71 submarines in commission while the Pentagon in its last annual report to Congress said that the PLA Navy now operates more than 60 submarines.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: India counters Xi's 'belt and road' with competing project

Chinese president Xi Jinping's "belt and road" initiative to link China with with Europe through Central and Western Asia and to connect with Southeast Asian countries will be met with staunch challenges from India's own competing proposal, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.

Xi's ambitious strategic plan, announced last year, comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt, a land-based belt from China via Central Asia and Russia to Europe, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, a maritime route through the Strait of Malacca to India, the Middle East and East Africa.

Pang Zhongying, an international relations professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, says while Xi has personally invited Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to join the belt and road initiative, New Delhi has never expressed a clear indication of support.

Instead, India will soon be launching its own Project Mausam, a transnational initiative meant to revive its ancient maritime routes and cultural linkages with countries in the region.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Many obstacles before China can claim it is war ready - US expert

Former US army attache to Beijing Dennis J Blasko says there are several obstacles for the People's Liberation Army to overcome before it is capable of fighting a modern war in an article published in War on the Rocks, a website covering military issues based in Washington.

Blasko said the first problem is the system of how political officers are responsible for insuring the PLA's loyalty to the ruling Communist Party of China through ideological training, officer promotions, and the waging of the "three warfares" of psychological, media and legal war to maintain morale and discipline. From the perspective of Western observers, this situation violates the principle of the unity of command. Under this theory, commanders alone are authorized to make immediate tactical and operational decisions when necessary. With the current Chinese system, there may be friction between commanders and their political counterparts when a decision needs to be made.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: PLA Air Force launches flight training for high schoolers

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force is setting up training bases in civilian high schools to provide flight training for around 1,000 students aged 14 to 16.

It is currently selecting the schools and plans to begin running the training later in 2015 after selecting the students based on applications, the ministries of education and public security and the PLA General Political Department jointly announced on Thursday.

Under the measures, the selected students will take the training in addition to their regular high school studies.

Successful applicants will receive a subsidy and should board at the schools. They will sign contracts committing to apply for PLA aviation universities and participate in pilot recruitment tests after graduating from high school, said Peng Junxia, head of the Air Force pilot recruitment bureau.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Pakistan Re-equips Squadron With AEW&C Planes

Shaanxi ZDK-03 (Y-8) AEW&C (Image: Wiki Commons)

By Usman Ansari

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's Air Force (PAF) Thursday stood up its unit of Chinese Karakorum Eagle AEW&C aircraft in a ceremony attended by the head of the PAF, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafiq Butt, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Though the exact location of the ceremony was not given, it is believed to have been held at PAF Base Masroor in Karachi as the prime minister was known to have been in the city that day.

Brian Cloughley, an analyst and former Australian defense attache to Islamabad, said AEW&C "is very good news for the PAF – and for Pakistan" because it "will dramatically improve early warning capabilities which up until now have been comparatively rudimentary."

The ZDK-03 Karakorum Eagle is a dish-based AEW&C system mounted on a Shaanxi Y-8F600 aircraft. Though never confirmed, it has been speculated that the dish houses an AESA antenna.

Four were ordered in 2008 with the first delivered in 2010

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: Can the Solomon Islands Reform?

By Sally Andrews

Under a new coalition government, the Pacific state has a chance to adopt much-needed reforms.

Under the leadership of a newly elected coalition government, many Solomon Islanders hold hopes that 2015 will emerge as a period of unprecedented reform. As the legislature prepares to debate potential frameworks for economic stimulus and the consolidation of law and order, international attention will be concentrating on whether the state can continue to chip away at its former reputation as the Pacific “failing state (PDF).”
Whilst commonly remembered as the site of the first Allied push back against Japanese occupation in the bloody Battle of Guadalcanal (1943-1943), the Solomon Islands’ political trajectory since its 1978 independence from Britain has been marred by corruption, dysfunction, and civil unrest. Tensions over increased rates of inter-island migration in the 1990s, alongside continued resentment over colonial land appropriations, led to outbreaks of violence within Guadalcanal and the capital Honiara. Armed militias emerged from both the Guadalcanal and Malaita ethnic groups, turning the capital into a war zone and causing businesses, schools and local governance institutions to grind to a halt. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

28 February 2015

USA: MCMRON-7 and JMSDF Focus on Combined Operations in Annual Mine Warfare Staff Talks

By Lt. Joseph S. Marinucci, MCMRON-7 Public Affairs

WHITE BEACH, Okinawa (NNS) -- Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, Commander, Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 7, and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Commander (JMSDF), Mine Warfare Force concluded a three day mine warfare staff conference at CTF 76 headquarters Feb. 25.

This year's conference highlighted an increased focus on enhancing combined exercises to better integrate U.S. and Japanese forces and capabilities in a live-force environment. Interoperability, cooperation, and tactical development were key themes of the event.

"These talks are another example of the exceptional relationship enjoyed by the U.S. Navy and JMSDF, said Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet. "The fact that we can come together to discuss openly on how we can improve our core combat capabilities and interoperability in mine warfare and amphibious operations demonstrates our commitment to this alliance."

USA: Navy Aviation Electronic Attack Squadron Participates in Cope North

A USN E/A-18G Growler lands at RAAF base Amberley (File Photo)

By Tanya M. Champaco Mendiola, U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, Public Affairs

YIGO, Guam (NNS) -- Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 135 is participating in the two-week Cope North 2015 Exercise at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 16-27.

Cope North is a multilateral training exercise conducted annually. This year's Cope North brings U.S. Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard units together with service members from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Republic of Korea Air Force, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. 

For the past week, VAQ-135 maintenance personnel have shared a flight hangar with members of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. The shared space has facilitated collaboration between the U.S. and Japanese units. 

USA: Ambassador Scheinman Travels to Singapore, Malaysia and Japan

Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation Ambassador Adam Scheinman will travel to Singapore, Malaysia and Japan from March 2-4 for consultations in preparation for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon).